Black Betty – meaning and origin

Black Betty”  is a 20th-century African-American work song often credited to Huddie “Lead Belly” Ledbetter as the author, though the earliest recordings are not by him. The song was first recorded in the field by US musicologists John and Alan Lomax in December 1933, performed a cappella by the convict James “Iron Head” Baker and a group at Central State Farm, Sugar Land, Texas (a State prison farm). The Lomaxes were recording for the Library of Congress and later field recordings in 1934, 1936, and 1939 also include versions of “Black Betty”.

 This version recording from the Library of Congress call number AFC 1939/001 2643b2 on May 10, 1939, performed by Mose “Clear Rock” Platt (vocals) at Hotel Blazilmar, Taylor, Texas.

The origin and meaning of the lyrics are subject to debate. Historically the “Black Betty” of the title may refer to the nickname given to a number of objects: a musket, a bottle of whiskey, a whip, or a penitentiary transfer wagon.

Some sources claim the song is derived from an 18th-century marching cadence about a flint-lock musket with a black painted stock; the “bam-ba-lam” lyric referring to the sound of the gunfire. In the British Army from the early 18th century the standard musket had a walnut stock, and was thus known (by at least 1785) as a ‘Brown Bess’. ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Black_Betty )

In 1934, John A. and Alan Lomax in their book, American Ballads and Folk Songs described the origins of “Black Betty”:

“Black Betty is not another Frankie, nor yet a two-timing woman that a man can moan his blues about. She is the whip that was and is used in some Southern prisons. A convict on the Darrington State Farm in Texas, where, by the way, whipping has been practically discontinued, laughed at Black Betty and mimicked her conversation in the following song.” 

Robert Vells, in Life Flows On in Endless Song:Folk Songs and American History, writes:

As late as the 1960s, the vehicle that carried men to prison was known as “Black Betty,” though the same name may have also been used for the whip that so often was laid on the prisoners’ backs, “bam-ba-lam.”

You can download the original WAV file from the U.S. Library of Congress website here and try for yourself to discern the full answers.

Henry Fox Talbot

Henry Fox Talbot

“I do not claim to have perfected an art but to have commenced one, the limits of which it is not possible at present exactly to ascertain.”

William Henry Fox Talbot, by John Moffat of Edinburgh, May 1864.

 

William Henry Fox Talbot (11 February 1800 – 17 September 1877) was an English scientist, inventor and photography pioneer who invented the salted paper and calotype processes, precursors to photographic processes of the later 19th and 20th centuries. His work, in the 1840s on photomechanical reproduction, led to the creation of the photoglyphic engraving process, the precursor to photogravure. He was the holder of a controversial patent that affected the early development of commercial photography in Britain. He was also a noted photographer who contributed to the development of photography as an artistic medium. He published The Pencil of Nature (1844–46), which was illustrated with original salted paper prints from his calotype negatives, and made some important early photographs of Oxford, Paris, Reading, and York.

 

The Pencil of Nature

Cover of The Pencil of Nature, 1844

 

The book detailed Talbot’s development of the calotype process and included 24 calotype prints, each one pasted in by hand, illustrating some of the possible applications of the new technology. Since photography was still very much a novelty and many people remained unfamiliar with the concept, Talbot felt compelled to insert the following notice into his book:

The plates of the present work are impressed by the agency of Light alone, without any aid whatever from the artist’s pencil. They are the sun-pictures themselves, and not, as some persons have imagined, engravings in imitation.”

The cover page for The Pencil of Nature clashed designs, which was characteristic of the Victorian era, with styles inspired by baroque, Celtic, and medieval elements. Its symmetrical design, letterforms, and intricate carpet pages are similar to and a pastiche of the Book of Kells.

The Pencil of Nature was published and sold one section at a time, without any binding (as with many books of the time, purchasers were expected to have it bound themselves once all the installments had been released). Talbot planned a large number of installments; however, the book was not a commercial success and he was forced to terminate the project after completing only six.

 

 

 

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Henry_Fox_Talbot

 

 

 

 

Placebo – Buttle for the sun

Just learned that Placebo ( my favorite band) are coming to Athens, in June, for the Rock Wave Festival. So, today’s music belongs to them..

This is the cover art for Battle for the Sun. The cover art copyright is believed to belong to the record label or the graphic artist(s).

Battle for the Sun is the sixth studio album by English alternative rock band Placebo. It was recorded in Canada in 2008 and released on 8 June 2009 and  received a generally favourite reaction from critics. Eddie Fleisher of Alternative Press gave the album 4 and a half out of 5 stars, writing that Battle for the Sun “takes the best elements of their sound and focuses it into a cohesive listening experience … there’s no filler to be found”. The review also notes how Steve Forrest as drummer gives the band a much-needed kick and how Brian Molko’s lyrics are given more clarity.

Frontman Brian Molko said on the concept of the album:

“We’ve made a record about choosing life, about choosing to live, about stepping out of the darkness and into the light. Not necessarily turning your back on the darkness because it’s there, it’s essential; it’s a part of who you are, but more about the choice of standing in the sunlight instead.”

Enjoy

Charles Nègre

Charles Nègre

Charles Nègre (9 May 1820 – 16 January 1880) was a pioneering photographer, born in Grasse, France. He studied under the painters Paul Delaroche, Ingres and Drolling before establishing his own studio at 21 Quai Bourbon on the Île Saint-Louis, Paris.

Delaroche encouraged the use of photography as research for painting; Nègre started with the daguerreotype process before moving on to calotypes. His “Chimney-Sweeps Walking”, an albumen print taken on the Quai Bourbon in 1851, may have been a staged study for a painting, but is nevertheless considered important to photographic history for its being an early instance of an interest in capturing movement and freezing it forever in one moment.

The interesting shapes in his 1852 photograph of buildings in Grasse have caused it to be seen as a precursor to art photography. In 1859, he was commissioned by Empress Eugénie to photograph the newly established Imperial Asylum in the Bois de Vincennes, a hospital for disabled workingmen.

He used both albumen and salt print, and was known also as a skilled printer of photographs, using a gravure method of his own development. A plan commissioned by Napoleon III to print photographs of sculpture never came to fruition, and in 1861 Nègre retired to Nice, where he made views and portraits for holiday makers. He died in Grasse in 1880.

source:https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Charles_N%C3%A8gre

Morphine band – Buena( 1993)

Morphine was an American alternative rock group formed by Mark Sandman, Dana Colley, and Jerome Deupree in Cambridge, Massachusetts in 1989. After five successful albums and extensive touring, they disbanded after lead vocalist Sandman died of a heart attack onstage in Palestrina, Italy, on July 3, 1999. Founding members have reformed into the band Vapors of Morphine, maintaining much of the original style and sound.

Morphine combined blues and jazz elements with more traditional rock arrangements, giving the band an unusual sound. Sandman sang distinctively in a “deep, laid-back croon”, and his songwriting featured a prominent beat influence. The band themselves coined the label “low rock” to describe their music, which involved “a minimalist, low-end sound that could have easily become a gimmick: a ‘power trio’ not built around the sound of an electric guitar. Instead, Morphine expanded its offbeat vocabulary on each album.”

The band enjoyed positive critical appraisal, but met with mixed results commercially. In the United States the band was embraced and promoted by the indie rock community, including public and college radio stations and MTV’s 120 Minutes, which the band once guest-hosted, but received little support from commercial rock radio and other music television programs. This limited their mainstream exposure and support in their home country, while internationally they enjoyed high-profile success, especially in Belgium, Portugal, France and Australia.

Mark Sandman from Morphine, playing at Mississippi Nights in St. Louis, MO

 

source: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Morphine_(band)

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